March Event-in-a-Box: Healing After Abortion:On January 19, 2018, I participated in my first March for Life. For as many times as I have shared my story publicly, spoken to post-abortive and abortion-determined women privately, and vocally professed my pro-life stance; I woke up on January 19 with a very heavy heart. It was a gut feeling that I can’t really describe. I’ve participated in a breast cancer walk, Alzheimer’s walk, and Autism Awareness 5Ks, because they have held some type of significant meaning to me. The March for Life not only held a significant meaning to me, but also a reminder. A reminder of the worst day of my life.
October 5, 2011, I walked into an abortion facility and took the life of my first child. This sentence, even 6 ½ years later, still stings. I have shared the circumstances surrounding that day many times. I walked into that facility thinking that “choice” was my only answer, but I walked out broken, hurt, and misguided. Not only did my unborn child die that day, but a part of myself died that day too.
Years of heartache went by filled with more broken relationships. A need to have alcohol in my hand, a man paying attention to me, and a busy social calendar were what controlled my life. That’s where I found my identity in the years following my abortion. My friends just thought I was doing what any mid-twenty-year-old woman would do in Dallas. However, no one around me knew the grief that I still held onto that I was trying to suppress with my nights out. The flashbacks that would still find their way into my head, the memories of that October day that would randomly resurface at any given moment. And the number of times I would fight back tears at the slightest thought of the “what-ifs.” After all, society had told me that I didn’t need to grieve my abortion. Nurses told me that it wasn’t a baby. My boyfriend convinced me that “it just wasn’t a good time right now.” So why was I hurting?
One morning, after another night out, I found myself sobbing alone in my apartment. I couldn’t live this way anymore. I couldn’t live with the pain of never feeling good enough, of feeling broken and lost. I was tired of hurting and knew that I needed to return to the one thing that I had given up on. I began attending a church in Dallas, TX, that advertised post-abortive recovery for women. I fought to convince myself I didn’t need it and I walked into the first session very half-heartedly.
Post-abortive recovery changed my life. It began the process of healing a wound that that never would have healed on its own. It was the hardest 12 weeks I’ve had to endure, but I would do it all over again. That piece of me that I felt had died was restored. My mom has even said that post-abortive recovery “brought her girl back.” And now, two years after completing recovery, I’ve been called to work in the pro-life movement. I’ve been purposed for this mission to rescue the preborn and help women from the devastation that I faced.
To post-abortive women:
I get it. I know the circumstances you were facing. I understand the thoughts that may have been going through your head that day. I understand the fear of the unknown you faced as you walked through the doors that day. And I also understand your hurt, even the hurt that you don’t think you have.
I hope that I can be a beacon of hope to you. I hope that my story shows you that even though society is telling you to keep quiet and not to worry about that day, I hope I can show you that you don’t need to keep quiet. I want you to see that it is okay to grieve the child you lost and there is hope beyond that grief. I want to show you that you are worthy of healing. You are worthy of love. You are worthy of freedom from regret and those memories. There’s grace waiting for you beyond your regret. I will hold your hand as you take that first step, and there are so many other women I have met that are ready to help and love you.
I’ve met women that have suffered multiple abortions, including women that didn’t seek healing until they were in their 60’s from an abortion that happened in their teens. You are not alone in this, you have a sisterhood standing behind you and will walk with you the whole way.
Helping the post-abortive woman
The post-abortive woman needs just as much love as the woman who chose life. The post-abortive woman is fighting psychological battles that she may not know how to communicate. Just like a woman facing a crisis pregnancy needs compassion and a team to stand up for her, a post-abortive woman needs to feel love and support, not shame. Society tells post-abortive women to keep quiet, so she is forced to fight the battles alone.
Read this for more information on mental and emotional side effects of abortion
3 points in communicating:
Avoid sharing statistics. Statistics are not going to give her the compassion she is yearning for. What she wants from you is a listening ear and possibly a shoulder to cry on. This woman is wanting you to listen to her story and meet her where she’s at mentally and emotionally without a shade of shame or judgement.
Build her trust. I’ve met women that sought abortion after some heart-breaking circumstances. I’m friends with women who have had multiple abortions and their stories are very traumatic. She doesn’t want you to act shocked by her story or surprised. She might confuse that with judgement. Communicate to her how sorry you for her loss. This will build the bridge to referring her to healing.
Finally, compassionately and delicately offer her resources for healing. Whether that is a healing program, or someone like myself that has been there and can just go have coffee with her. I have had the joy of mentoring girls through the same recovery program that I went through, and it all began over coffee (or Chinese food-I will accept either).
On January 19, 2018, I Marched for Life. I marched with my head held high. I marched for my child, I marched for the many children that have been lost to the devastation of abortion. I marched for the post-abortive women that still carry their grief. I marched to end abortion.
At the end of the day, I believe Grace wins. I believe in the power of forgiveness. I believe that we all have a story to tell and a cross to bear. I take up my cross daily with my platform in the pro-life movement. If you or someone you know would like to talk about their post-abortive regret or have questions on where to go for help, please feel free to contact me- I will sit and be an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. I’ve been there too. If my story can save one woman, one child, one life- that one woman or one child, can save others. That is my purpose.
See the full video of my story and more information on post-abortive recovery.
March 2018 Event in a Box
If you can’t tell, we are focusing on the topic of Post-Abortive Healing and Recovery for the month of March.
We have included several types of outreach material that you can use on your campus.
Campus and Group Activities:
Speaker flyer- host a speaker on your campus for your group meetings or have a speaking event
Ally is the National Programs Coordinator for SFLA and has spoken at many events and churches
Tina, Executive Vice President of Students for Life of America, has volunteered with Rachel’s Vineyard for 7 years and uses her experience there to speak on post-abortive healing
Use the brochures included to reach out to the organizations for speakers
Brochures and postcards-make copies if needed
Use these as resources to give to women on your campus
Ask if you can leave some in the campus clinic
Leave some in your campus counseling office
Leave some in your campus ministry office
Reach out to local post-abortive organizations for speakers and materials
Three Days, One Lawsuit, One New Students for Life Club
Last week, Students for Life of America and our attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom helped Norvilia Etienne, a student at Queens College in New York, file a federal lawsuit against her school for refusing to allow her to start a Students for Life club on campus. And then two days later, the school relented and recognized the Students for Life club. #winning
Last fall, Queens College Students for Life and other campus groups applied for “registered” status, seeking to join more than 100 student organizations—including pro-abortion clubs—which are allowed to reserve meeting space, invite speakers, and receive funding from mandatory student activity fees. Officials delayed and then rejected Students for Life’s application without explanation but approved the applications of at least two other groups immediately.
The college gave unlimited power to the Campus Affairs Committee to decide whether a group should be granted official recognition and whether it may receive funding. The lawsuit, Queens College Students for Life v. Members of the City University of New York Board of Trustees, points out that this sweeping authority allows them to deny recognition and funding for any reason, including unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination. ADF attorneys explain that public universities cannot refuse to approve a student group without justification and must ensure recognition and student activity funding are approved in a viewpoint-neutral manner.
Because of Queens College’s discriminatory practices, Students for Life members must continue to fund, through the college’s mandatory student activity fees, groups that support abortion but cannot access funds from those fees, which exceed $1,200 per student over eight semesters, for themselves.
“Too frequently we see that public colleges and universities feel they can deny recognition or funding to a student group just because officials don’t agree with the viewpoint of those students,” said Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins. “Queens College was playing favorites while stifling free speech, a typical response of abortion advocates who prefer to silence opposition rather than have a free exchange of ideas. Thanks to the courage of Norvilia and the help of our attorneys, a quick resolution was found and now we can move forward to help Norvilia and Queens College SFL create a culture of life on campus.”
We are thrilled that Queens College recognized that they were treating Norvilia and her Students for Life group as second-class citizens for the sole reason they are pro-life. Parts of the lawsuit will continue for other reasons but the school has recognized the SFL club and Norvilia can move forward with events and campus activism.
Norvilia actually became pro-life because of the extraordinary example of her mother:
“My passion for the pro-life movement stems from my life’s story. When I was 16, I found out that my mother contemplated aborting a fetus, and that fetus was me. Granted my then-17-year-old mother already had an 11-month-old son with an absentee father. After he found out the news, my father also announced that he would not be caring for me, so she had legitimate reasons to worry. But by the grace of God and through the advice of my staunchly Catholic grandmother, she choose to have me.
“Yes, we had a difficult upbringing and didn’t always have the shiniest toys but I’m glad I have my life. I’m glad I was given the chance to grow up and fend for myself as I do now as a college student. My mother is the strongest woman I know!”
We are so proud of Norvilia and her pro-life convictions and we can’t wait to help her make a positive difference for life on her campus!